Speakers Archive

Please see below for excerpts from previous years' OHREA Awards speakers

photo of Jeremiah Bowers smiling at event

Excerpts from the remarks made by UWSA President Jeremiah Bowers (2018):

"What does it mean to be “inclusive?”

To one person, it may mean feeling part of something larger than oneself. A sense of belonging and interconnectedness. To another, it could be mere recognition by the outside world. Recognition for one’s struggles. Recognition for one’s achievements. Recognition for one’s voice. Recognition for one’s existence.

You ask me, and I believe inclusiveness is so much more than something that can be wrapped into words or sentences. It can’t be defined because inclusion to one is not inclusion to another. Oppression faced by one minority is not the same oppression faced by every other. Being comfortable in your own skin does not mean so many other skins are not judged based on colour, appearance, or labelled identities. It does not mean so many other skins aren’t staring down the barrel of a shotgun or watching hopelessly behind bars or are being intentionally mis-gendered out of exclusionary ignorance or being told they can’t do something or never will be something because they simply aren’t equal. Equal in privilege. Equal in ability. Equal in status. Equal in courage".

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Excerpts from the remarks made by Professor Lionel Walsh (2017):

"Congratulations to those whom we recognize today for their contributions to the advancement of human rights at the University of Windsor."

I would like to frame my remarks today in terms of the It Gets Better Campaign, in support of LGBTQ+ Youth, created by Dan Savage, a Gay Rights advocate in the United States. I will also link it to my own personal experience as a gay man living in Canada and working at the University of Windsor. I have, indeed, experienced discrimination based on my sexual orientation both professionally and personally.

It gets better.

And I believe that it has gotten better for all minorities – although the battle is not yet won, we have much to celebrate. We also have a duty to keep on working towards equality. To that end, permit me to share with you the Pledge of the It Gets Better campaign, which I have taken and encourage you to take as well, because I believe it applies to all peoples, regardless of race, religious belief or sexual orientation. 
I believe in a world where hope outshines fear. I commit to stand up and speak out against hate and intolerance. My support for LGBTQ+ youth will be steadfast. I am part of a global community that is proud and resolute in its efforts to create a brighter, more inclusive world for all people. I know it will get better…"

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Excerpts from the remarks made by Karen Pillon (2016):

"I am grateful to OHREA for giving me the opportunity to speak with you today about the awesome initiatives the Leddy Library has taken on improve the lives of some of our students on campus and some who have yet to come."

My name is Karen Pillon. I am a librarian at the Leddy library but also the head of access services, and the liaison librarian for education. Although the 2 roles give me the chance to impact those around me, I find that my greatest opportunity for impact comes from two other roles – namely, my liaison role with students who have accessibility challenges around access to information (print format or other) and also my liaison role with international students.  In both of these latter roles, I am often pushed to think about perspectives that are not always obvious to me.

For example, it’s hard enough to navigate the library website, but to do so as a student who is blind and who needs to write a paper using resources which are unfamiliar poses a challenge of sorts. However, I am very lucky to work with students who are so open about their realities. Often, it is I who becomes the student and they naturally become the teacher. In a way, I see my role as one of empowerment, where finally the student successfully transfers knowledge to me instead of the usual role I find myself in, which is me transferring knowledge to the students. Once this happens, the ebb and flow of the magic of teaching and learning begins. I am humbled by Allan Angus who came to me after graduating in the masters program and asked me to “check his website” as he embarked on his journey as he opened his own social work practice. The element of trust cannot go underestimated..."

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